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According to Gary Warren, CEO of ivWatch, a Virginia-based producer of medical-grade N95 masks, there are two types of N95s: those designed to filter out aerosols and those tested using latex to imitate particle matter.

Both are equally effective in defending you against COVID-19’s causative agent, SARS-CoV-2.

The former may often be found at a hardware shop; although they are effective at keeping paint and sawdust out of your airways, their strong, shell-like design isn’t particularly pleasant for extended periods of time. When the pandemic first started, these were among the masks that garnered attention for inflicting medical staff with face bruises after lengthy hours.

The medical-grade N95 masks, which are designed for aerosols, come in a variety of configurations but are always constructed of three layers of heat-blown polypropylene, a strong metallic noseband that is stiffer than those used in surgical masks, and head straps.

How do N95 masks function?

Medical-grade N95 masks are made of polypropylene, a material that is comparable to certain reusable shopping bags but much denser. As a result, airborne particles have a tougher time entering your airways. Additionally, they work better the better they suit your face; we’ll go through how to get a decent fit later in this narrative.

But there’s more to it, according to Warren, who claims that the center layer of an N95 is electrically charged with up to 30,000 volts. This enables the polypropylene to filter out at least 95% of particles by both attracting them as if the net and tennis ball were magnetic and preventing them the way a net stops a tennis ball.

It’s particularly effective because “this electrostatic charge attracts those particles,” he says. In fact, the melt-blown technique gets more effective with the smaller the particle. The occlusion is often 99.3 to 99.5 percent when you reach 0.1 microns.

According to research, COVID-19-containing respiratory particles may be as tiny as 4.7 microns.

What distinguishes N95 masks from other premium respirators?

Although N95 masks are often cited as the industry standard for particle filtration, masks like the KF94, FPP1, FPP2, and FPP3 perform similarly well. The sole distinction between them is where they were born.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) regulates and certifies the stringent US process used to produce N95 masks. According to Warren, NIOSH experts often visit manufacturers to ensure the masks produced there are up to par.

While the FPP family is the industry norm in the European Union, the KF94 is the N95’s South Korean counterpart. These varieties perform similarly to N95s and are likewise closely regulated by the government. If you manage to get any of them, you may be sure that they will provide equivalent defense against COVID-19.

distinguishes N95 masks

The KN95, a Chinese protocol, has been kept distinct for a purpose. Although it is the most extensively used foreign standard in the US, there have been issues with it.

The Emergency Care Research Institute discovered that 70% of KN95 masks did not fulfill the bare minimum of US regulations in September 2020. Similar to this, the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a warning that 60% of KN95s in the US are really fake. Due to the lack of government manufacturing control, it is impossible to tell whether the majority of KN95s you may obtain are genuinely shielding you or anyone in your immediate vicinity against COVID-19. Click here to read more about Having problems with N95 masks? Read this.

What’s even more concerning is how difficult it might be to distinguish between a real KN95 and a fake. The CDC offers tips on how to spot fake masks and also includes a search engine where users can see whether a particular brand and model has been approved by NIOSH. You may also look at this list of more companies and goods that have been given emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration (see appendix A).

Unfortunately, these sites are not as user-friendly as they might be, so even if you restrict your search to reputable manufacturers, you can still find up buying a defective mask.

According to Marcus Schabacker, anesthesiologist, and CEO of the ECRI, “our study also discovered that there’s a significant inner product variability, so just though you have one mask which may accomplish what it’s supposed to be doing, the next might not—even from the same manufacturer and same lot.”

A surgical mask is not as effective at protecting you and others as genuine approved KN95s. KN95s, however, don’t fit as snugly, making KF94s, FPPs, and N95 masks even more advantageous.

The characteristics of an N95

N95s must be tight against your face, as we just explained, in order to function at their best. By doing so, you’ll form a seal that prevents any gaps between the mask and your skin from allowing particles to enter your airways.

To guarantee you get that seal, Warren advises wearing masks with a horizontal fold so that they may move with your jaw while you speak and chew. Masks with vertical folds or hinge points, like KN95s, have a tendency to slide up and down, making it difficult to achieve a perfect seal and necessitating frequent readjusting by the user. While fit testing and training may be mandated for healthcare professionals, any N95 masks you purchase should come with instructions on how to test the seal on your own.

characteristics of an N95

Headbands rather than ear loops are another feature to watch out for

According to Warren, the drawback of ear loops is that you can only exert so much pressure until it hurts your ears.

N95 masks against fabric masks versus surgical masks

Before we get into why expensive masks like N95 masks are your greatest defense against airborne COVID-19, it is crucial to stress the adage that any mask is always preferable to none at all.

Therefore, before you spiral into masked nihilism because you can’t acquire an N95, realize that any correctly worn face covering will shield you and your neighborhood from the virus.

Having said that, let’s begin from the bottom. In order to spare the limited personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel who were more at risk of getting COVID-19 during the start of the pandemic, officials advised the public to use cloth masks. That made logical at the time, but not now.

The FDA’s decision to rescind its emergency use permission for non-NIOSH-approved masks and advise that healthcare institutions go back to disposable, single-use respirators are in line with Warren and Schabacker’s assertion that there is no longer a scarcity of medical-grade PPE. You can also read about Face masks can prevent COVID-19 transmission by visiting https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/face-masks

Masks N95 Masks

The Biden administration stated they would soon deliver free N95 masks to pharmacies and community health centers after public health experts urged Americans for months to start using better N95 masks.

That comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its advice for consumers on using N95 masks on Friday, highlighting the fact that N95s and other high-filtration respirators provide the greatest defense against COVID-19.

Here’s all you need to know about getting your own N95 mask if you don’t feel like waiting to try and get one for free from the government.

Over the course of this epidemic, I’ve spent a considerable bit of time studying N95 masks, speaking with specialists in the area, and answering queries from family and friends. And there are inquiries! Which breathing apparatus is best for me? Where can I get a reliable one? Do they really need to feel uncomfortable?

N95 masks

Here is my effort to address your concerns and clarify where to acquire N95 masks and how to use them safely.

Fake N95 masks, so I’ve heard, may be problematic. How can I be sure I’m receiving the actual thing?

N95s are a dependable option since they are produced to U.S. regulatory requirements and put through thorough testing by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The South Korean government regulates these respirators in accordance with the KF94 standard. Collins claims that “every [KF94] I’ve tried so far has been really high performing.”

Collins and Miller agree that KN95 is a Chinese respirator standard, although the Chinese government does not properly monitor these respirators. Even though there are some high-quality KN95s available (the ones produced by Powecom have performed well in testing), low-quality or outright fraudulent KN95s have been an issue throughout the epidemic.

To spot fakes, there are certain telltale signs. For instance, Miller claims that the manufacturer name and the respirator standard number should both be imprinted on the front of KN95s. The standard number for N95 masks made after July 1, 2021, is GB2626-2019, whereas the standard number for N95 masks created before that date is GB2626-2006. She claims that if any of those components are missing from your KN95, it may not be genuine. Here is the CDC’s instructions to identifying bogus N95s.

N95 masks

However, generally speaking, it may be difficult to determine whether you’ve got the genuine article with any mask, which is why Collins and Miller agree that it’s crucial to purchase from a reliable supplier. One option is Project N95, which screens distributors of N95 masks. Collins also suggests Armbrust, a business that offers medical-grade N95 masks produced in the United States by a number of manufacturers, including itself. You can read more about How many types of N95 masks are there? by visiting http://investigateyourdoctor.com/how-many-types-of-n95-masks-are-there/

Collins advises visiting big-box retailers like Home Depot and Lowes. He claims that buying N95 masks on Amazon might be challenging since sellers often change. Nevertheless, he advises sticking with the official shops of well-known mask companies like 3M or Kimberly-Clark if you absolutely want the ease that Amazon provides. I wouldn’t simply purchase something off of Amazon, he claims.

Additionally, as the CDC indicated in its revised mask guidelines, Miller claims that there are now several American manufacturers producing NIOSH-rated N95s, so supply is no longer a concern. However, she claims that due to the increased demand for respirators, it is difficult for mask makers and other parties in the supply chain to meet demand. Thus, do not anticipate overnight delivery of your item.

Collins advises searching for a South Korean KF94 respirator online at stores like Be Healthy USA and Kollecte USA. He claims that these companies began as importers of South Korean cosmetics but have now expanded to include KF94 respirators, which are widely available in South Korean pharmacies.

Can I use my N95 or another respirator again?

However, Miller suggests using the “brown bag decontamination approach” instead. Basically, if your work requires you to wear a respirator all day, store it in a brown paper bag at night or hang it up in a cool, dry location. In order for any virus particles caught on it to die off, it should rest for five days. Put “Monday mask,” “Tuesday mask,” etc. on the bags. The CDC recommends just five reuses of an N95 respirator. (Health professionals need not reuse them.) Miller points out that if you follow this rule, a rotation of only five respirators might last you 25 days.

What if you just sometimes put on an N95 for a brief trip to the store? Miller suggests that you estimate the lifespan of your respirator to be about 40 hours of usage in total, which is equal to five eight-hour days. It’s time to throw away the respirator if it’s dusty, growing difficult to breathe through, or if the straps have been stretched out.

N95 masks using

One other thing: N95 masks have a shelf life. According to Miller, a mask may gradually lose some of its electrostatic charge, which traps particles, as well as the suppleness of its headbands or ear loops, which might make it less protective.

According to her, KN95s normally have a shelf life of two to three years. Search the package for a little ticket that indicates the product’s production date.

What about N95 masks? 

Though some manufacturers will do so, NIOSH does not mandate that respirators be tagged with a shelf-life date. Even while certain expired N95s may still function properly, they are no longer regarded as NIOSH approved after they have passed their shelf life.

It may be really painful to wear N95s. How can I locate something comfortable that I can wear all day?

These days, N95 masks come in a variety of sizes and forms. Five fundamental kinds are included in Collins’ spreadsheet: bifold, boat, cup, cone, and duckbill. Finding a suitable fit for you may take some time and trial and error.

For instance, I detest inflexible cup-shaped N95s, despite Miller’s claim that many men do so “for reasons I don’t understand.” The 3M Aura 9205+, which includes foam above the nose clip for increased comfort, is one of Collins’ favorite trifold or boat-shaped N95s.

According to him and Miller, N95s with a breathing pocket or duckbill form often suit a wide range of users. “These duckbill-shaped N95 masks may seem silly, yet they are wonderfully breathable. You wouldn’t have any issues running a marathon in that, I’m very sure “affirms Collins. He enjoys the duckbill N95 masks made by Kimberly-Clark, 3M, and Gerson. You can also read about COVID-19 and face masks – Information for consumers by clicking here.

“It’s sort of an odd thing to say these days, but you kind of have to find your respirator. However, once you do, they’re incredibly cozy “He claims.

Not sure where to begin? 

To help you select the optimum fit, several businesses provide fit kits that include a variety of N95 models.

Additionally, keep in mind that the mask must fit extremely tightly; the goal is to prevent airflow around the edge. Put on a pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses to check. You don’t have a good fit if they fog up. Alternately, try using a different kind of mask or adjusting the straps or nose band.

Masks N95 Masks